Ever since his music video “Get Smoked” premiered on YouTube in early July, 13-year-old rapper Lil Mouse has been both highly sought after and heavily criticized.
The viral clip features the teen throwing up his middle finger, pantomiming a gun, and flashing stacks of money. The song has been regarded as a prime example of the current state of the Chicago rap culture. This is a scene that births teenagers raised in rough neighborhoods who believe the only way to do better for themselves is rap about the violence that they encounter almost daily.
Similar to 17-year-old Chicago rapper Chief Keef, who recently signed a deal with Interscope, Lil Mouse is from Chicago’s South side and a product of its Roseland neighborhood. His debut song has more than 300,000 views on YouTube and was recently featured on Lil Wayne’s Dedication 4 mixtape. Soon after the release of the mixtape, rumors began to emerge of Lil Mouse signing to Cash Money. Whether he signs to the label or not, he is certainly being courted by labels now.
His music stands in stark contrast to Bow Wow, who was 13 when he released his first album, and rapped about topics like roller-skating and playing basketball. One of Lil Mouse’s managers, Dough From Da Go, insists that “Get Smoked” is not all the teen rapper has to offer.
“He has stuff like that. It’s just one song. He does have other records. The music will speak for itself. He still has the mind frame of a kid. We are not going to follow in anyone’s footsteps though. We are going to break barriers,” he said.
“Get Smoked” may be only a song; but it is largely responsible for fueling Lil Mouse’s burgeoning career. It is the track that is setting the groundwork for his reputation as a rapper and it is has everyone wondering ‘where are his parents?’
In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, P. Noble, the director of the video, noted that Lil Mouse’s mother was actually on the set of the controversial music clip. However, Dough from Da Go wasn’t able to confirm Noble’s account.
“I’m not a part of the creative process. I don’t know if his mother was there or not but the whole neighborhood came out for the video. We didn’t know who those people were. We just spread the word and people came out. Whatever people came with, they came with but we didn’t ask for things.” said Dough from Da Go.
Referring to the use of guns in the video, Dough from Da Go believes Lil Mouse is only rapping about the dangers of his surrounding and not necessarily living it.
“Chicago has more killing then Afghanistan so yeah people have guns, he doesn’t. It’s all about the message. Ice Cube was on the cover of Kill at Will holding a gun. He wasn’t promoting violence he was sending a message. Everyone is uptight. A lot of people have insecurities. At the end of the day [Lil Mouse] has loyal fans. They know it’s not like that. He plays baseball and is an honor roll student,” he said.